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South African government introduces hate speech bill to Parliament

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCD) on Wednesday introduced a hate speech bill to Parliament in a bid to accelerate the process of criminalizing both hate crime and hate speech.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services heard that the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crime and Hate Speech Bill seeks to address the increasing number of incidents motivated by prejudice, in the forms of hate crime and hate speech, and to assist people who are victims of such crimes, Committee Chairperson Mathole Motshekga said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The Bill also puts in place measures to prevent and combat these offences, Motshekga said.

The committee appreciates the urgency of the matter, nonetheless MPs would first like to consider the matter for greater clarity, before it decides on the way forward, Motshekga said.

The Bill makes it a hate crime if a person commits any recognized offence under the law, referred to as the “base crime or offence,” if the commission of that offence is motivated by prejudice or intolerance on the basis of one or more characteristics or perceived characteristics of the victim, as listed in the Bill.

Under the Bill, the offence of hate speech is created and makes provision for any person who intentionally publishes, propagates or advocates anything or communicates to one or more persons in a manner that could be reasonably construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be harmful, or to incite or to promote or propagate hatred based on several categories.

These include, among others, age, albinism, birth, color, culture, disability, ethnic or social origin, gender, HIV status, language, nationality and sex.

The Bill also allows for exclusions, such as freedom of the press and other media, freedom to receive or impart information or ideas, freedom of artistic creativity, academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.

Motshekga said that as introduced by the DJCD, should a person be convicted of hate crimes, the Bill provides for the courts to impose sentencing, including imprisonment, periodical imprisonment, a fine and correctional supervision, depending on the base crime.

In terms of hate speech, the Bill makes provision for imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years in the case of a first conviction, or a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years in the case of a subsequent conviction, Motshekga said.

The Bill does not provide for alternatives such as restorative justice, he said.

“South Africans will be pleased with the Bill, particularly in light of the increasing intolerance South Africa has witnessed recently,” said Motshekga.

The South African cabinet approved the Bill in March following the resurgence of racism in the country.

The latest case involves former real estate agent Vicki Momberg who was sentenced to an effective two years in prison by the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg in March this year for her racist tirade in 2016.

In a video clip that went viral, Momberg could be heard complaining about the “calibre of blacks” after an alleged smash-and-grab incident in Johannesburg.



South Africa African Parliament resolves to undertake
full inquiry into naturalization of Gupta family

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African MPs stressed the need on Wednesday to undertake a full inquiry into the naturalization of the controversial Indian Gupta family embroiled in allegations of state capture.

A final decision in this regard will be made later in the year, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The committee had expected to make a decision on Wednesday, but was informed that the Parliamentary Legal Services needed more time to gather further information that will guide the decision to hold the inquiry.

“In principle, the decision to hold a full inquiry still holds and what the committee is awaiting is comprehensive information on the matter,” Committee Chairperson Hlomani Chauke said.

The information required is with the Department of Home Affairs and dates back to the initial application in 1995.

The report will also include recommendation on the format that the inquiry must take, according to Chauke.

“We will receive this report during the next session of Parliament, which is scheduled for August 2018,” said Chauke.

The gathering of information will also include verification of corporate social responsibility initiatives that the Gupta family provided to support their application for early naturalization under exceptional circumstances, he said.

The committee remains committed to dealing with the matter and laying bare all processes that were undertaken to ensure that all procedures within the department were followed, Chauke said.

The wealthy Guptas, which allegedly keep close ties with former President Jacob Zuma and his family, have been accused of looting from the state coffers in collaboration with Zuma and a number of senior government officials, known as state capture. But both Zuma and the Guptas have denied the charges.

South African police have launched a manhunt for some of the Gupta family members, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

The Department of Home Affairs is accused of granting citizenship to the Guptas through undue procedure.

The Guptas, who entered South Africa in the early 1990s, were naturalized between 2002 and 2006.


South African president briefed on preparations for 2019 general elections

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Wednesday briefed President Cyril Ramaphosa on preparations towards the sixth national and provincial elections due in 2019.

At the meeting in Cape Town, the IEC indicated some of the areas that need to be addressed before the next election, including outstanding boundary disputes, the tabling of the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill and the capturing of outstanding addresses on the voters’ roll, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

“The IEC is nevertheless confident of yet another successful, credible, free and fair election on the date to be proclaimed by the President,” Diko said.

Ramaphosa is encouraged by the work being done by the IEC and calls upon all South Africans to check their voter registration details, particularly their addresses on the voters roll, to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast their vote in the next election, said Diko.

General elections will be held in South Africa in 2019 to elect a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province. They will be the sixth elections held since the end of apartheid in 1994, and the second election held since the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, the first black president in South Africa.

This election will result in the selection of the next President of South Africa.

Under South Africa’s Constitution, the National Assembly and provincial legislatures shall have a term of five years and that elections must be held within 90 days of the end of term. The last general elections were held on May 7, 2014.

Ramaphosa, who became president in February replacing Jacob Zuma, will lead the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the election to retain majority status and a full term in office as president.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the main political opposition party, is potentially in a good position to become a challenger for power.

The ANC is fighting to regain ground after it emerged quite bruised from the 2016 local government elections, losing the key metropolitan municipalities of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay where it dominated since 1994.


South Africa holds investment show to attract Chinese investment on SEZs

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Bulelani Magwanishe has led an investment road show in China in a bid to attract Chinese investment for South Africa’s special economic zones (SEZs).

The South African Department of Trade and Industry said on Wednesday that the Chinese business community showed some interest in the country’s SEZs during the road show which was held in Shanghai this week.

“The trip presented officials from our SEZs with a golden opportunity to interact directly with the Chinese companies and present to them the value-propositions of our special economic zones,” said Ikhraam Osman, CEO of Free State Development Corporation.

“There is a logistics company that showed interest in investing in the SEZ. This was the first contact and it means we need to have follow-up meetings to exchange more technical information that will assist them to make a decision about investing in our SEZ,” said Osman.

The South Africans briefed their Chinese counterparts on the country’s special economic zones and the opportunities and incentives, said Osman.

The project executive for the North West-based Platinum Valley SEZ, Davis Sadike, said that the trip was successful, and that the trip made him understand the success of the Chinese SEZ model and how it led to the country’s economic growth.

“The interaction with the Chinese companies gave us a better understanding of their needs when it comes to investment in foreign projects,” said Sadike.

“We managed to share specific information of our SEZ with two companies who are operating in the renewable energy and locomotives sectors,” said Sadike.

“A good foundation has been laid for us to explore future discussions with these companies and others that we met,” said Sadike.



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